Rena clean-up as conditions ease
Divers, a barge and helicopter will today begin a clean-up on the Coromandel's rocky coastline after high swells battered the Rena over the weekend, spewing debris along the region's beaches.
Swells as high as 12 metres pounded the ship on Friday, making the seas so rough clean-up crews had no option but to stand on beaches and wait for debris to wash up.
Yesterday the seas still looked like a "washing machine", but the Waikato Regional Council's emergency management officer, Adam Munro, said those conditions were to begin easing today.
That would allow salvors Braemar Howells to access the tricky area that had so far been inaccessible. Yesterday's efforts were focused on bays around Mercury Bay, in particular Matapaua Bay.
Mr Munro said noodles and wheelbarrow buckets were washed ashore in that area, as well as some oily seaweed from the Astrolabe Reef.
Council workers, contractors and locals helped to clean-up some of the mess, but much of it washed up in rocky areas not easily accessible.
"The plan for the week is for Braemar Howells to bring up heavy equipment, including on-water vessel and the barge, and possible a helicopter to pick up the heavy bags from inaccessible areas," he said.
"They will focus on the rocky outcrops between Sailors Grave, just north of Tairua, up to Hot Water Beach and Simpsons Beach, in Mercury Bay, to Matapaua Bay. That will be the focus over the coming days."
Mr Munro said the forecast was for easing swells. They were supposed to be under one metre today, allowing greater access to the tricker areas.
Both Mr Munro and Coromandel Mayor Glenn Leach praised the efforts of volunteers helping out with the clean-up.
"It's great to see our locals and visitors getting stuck in to help us, we can report now that Matapaua Bay is now pretty much clear, with the debris taken over to Opito Bay for collection," Mr Leach said yesterday.
"Volunteers are doing a fantastic job to get the beaches cleaned up so quickly and I thank them for taking time out during their holidays to assist."
He said the situation appeared to be under control, "but you just don't know what's coming in on the next tide".
"There's still a heap of work to do on some of our rocky coastline and to clean up the tiny plastic balls, but the main beaches are looking good."
Contractors and staff will continue to monitor the situation.
The Hotline for reporting containers, debris or wildlife that may have been affected is 0800333771.
- Waikato Times